Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bees, bees, bees

We gave Sky a hive of bees with all the accessories for his birthday in March. They seem happy. Our practical experience with beekeeping is minimal, but we've been reading a lot and so far, so good. I'm absolutely amazed at how docile our little friends are. They tolerate quite a bit of examining with no foul temper. It's mesmerizing to watch them venture out of the hive to an unknown nectar source and return- thighs heavy with pollen.


The teepee was a trade from the Rainbow Family. The trampoline was a family gift from Nanny and Paw Paw. Sky and I set it up and Sky strung a parachute over the top to keep leaves off. He got so excited about parachutes, he decided to put one over our whole house!!!! It gets unbearably hot in the top of the dome during the heat of the summer, so we've been brainstorming cooling strategies. This one may need some tweaking yet. ;-)

Fruit trees

Here's the current status:
  • 3 persimmons- Good producers of mushy orange fruit. No one in our family cares for them too much, but I'm going to try baking with them this year.
  • 6 Asian pears- all with a virus or something mysterious that makes some leaves turn black. These are old trees. Some produce and some don't. The one pictured is one I heavily pruned.
  • 2 young peach trees- Need to be pruned, fertilized. Looking kinda scraggly.
  • 1 Mulberry tree- Young and leggy, needs to be pruned. has the making of a winner!
  • 1 Grape Arbor of scuponong grapes. Weeding is in order and grape flea beetles ravaged this vine recently!!
Lots of maintenance to be done in the orchard! In addition, I'd like this area to have irrigation, but since we are technically only renting this land right now, expensive improvements will have to wait.

Greeeeeeeeen is the color of the summer land!

My blog has inspired me to take a nature walk around the property. The kids and I got this Philodendron trunk cut into pieces from a landscapers trash pile, and now bright green leaves are unfurling. The bottom picture shows one of many hurricane tumbled oaks that nestle into the wild grape vines surrounding our property.

June Garden

Here's the same garden- fast forward to June! Tomatoes sprawling everywhere! I only planted them in one bed, but they sprouted like crazy from my food compost. I have done nothing- organic or otherwise about Florida's pests- therefore my garden is full of caterpillars, stink bugs and spiders! I've been picking them off when I can, and I think my harvest is winning over their munching, although my veggies are not walking away unscathed. Wild garden!
Next growing season, I'm going to:
~ add many new long slender beds
~ leave more room between rows
~ leave more room between plants!
~ test the soil
~ put down weed barrier between beds
~ make 6ft. tall growing rings out of metal fencing

These items are on my wish list for the autumn garden:

lettuces/salad greens
snow peas
garden peas
cherry tomatoes (although technically a summer veggie)

I'd also like to possibly plant some quick to harvest veggies between now and September, but I'm a little puzzled as to the best crops for Florida midsummer.

Raised garden Beds

These are some pictures that were taken as I planted this spring around March here in sunny Gainesviile, FL. I loosely based my garden on the square foot method, although (as you'll see) it has gotten quite wild since then! My daughter Lily helped tons, and the first picture shows the layers of soil before we mixed them together: mushroom compost, florida dirt, pearlite, vermiculite, peat moss, our food scrap compost and cow manure. What a mix! The beds were built from untreated scrap lumber from a pallet makers property. This has been my first successful garden, and although I'm already planning tons of revisions before next season, I'm thankful for every tomato, squash, sweet pea, green bean and broccoli that have come from our land.

Welcome to the world of blogging!

I've been enjoying reading homesteading blogs of mothers throughout the world this summer. Moms who are farming everything from chickens to worms post pictures and stories from their daily exploits.
Blogging is a perfect combination of keeping friends and relatives up to date on our busy lives, getting pictures into albums and journaling. So.... here I go!